Welcome to handmade Christmas gift edition 2016.

If you are new here and you’ve never celebrated the holidays with us, I need to start with a little explanation.

Our family makes gifts for each other every year.  We started small.  Someone made soap and then someone knitted something and then there was the year someone made trash cans with faces.

And then all that soaping and knitting and trash-can decorating turned into something a little more elaborate.

Like a picture of a thistle composed entirely of words from my blog.

Or a bowl carved from a tree that my father grew from a sapling.

Or a stone doormat created from pebbles collected from every state in the union and stamped with each state’s bird (no one actually did that, but you never know…it might happen next year).

And so it was on Christmas morning 2016….

….I opened this from my brother.

He found a wine barrel lid at a yard sale and created a piece of art for me.

Carefully, slowly and with great precision, he routed out my logo from the blog into the rough and jagged surface of the lid.

With every movement of the router, he peeled away the layers, allowing the age-old beauty of the reclaimed wood to shine.

When he gave me the gift, I cried.

Well, first I ran and hugged him and then hugged the wine barrel lid and then almost tripped over piles of wrapping paper and boxes and ribbon.

And then the tears welled up in my eyes.

I couldn’t help it.

Sitting there with twelve drummers drumming and pipers piping and ladies dancing and calling birds swirling all around me, I traced those lines etched into the wood.

Every detail.

Every furrow.

Every groove.

Every dash.

It was just like the life lessons I’ve learned from writing this blog.

When I started this blogging journey, five years ago…

…I was a blank slate.

I had no idea where the road ahead would take me.

I had no idea how much I would be challenged and tested and pushed out of my comfort zone.

I had no idea of the steps I would take on faith alone.

And I owe it all to you.



With every comment.  With every e-mail.  With every message.

You helped carve out a part of this blog.  You helped define the me that I am today.  With your encouragement and enthusiasm and kindness and joy, you helped me explore new ideas and live out dreams….

….and find my voice.

Thank you for cheering and encouraging and recognizing that red lipstick is an amazing thing and that smocking and burlap should never be parted and a seagrass rug goes with almost everything and that life is meant to be shared.

Thank you friend.


Thank you for helping me write this story. 🙂

PS  I love you, Mark.  You’re the best brother and best story-carver ever.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Patti Patti

    I love this homemade gift tradition that your family started - another beautiful piece from your sweet brother. I'm looking forward to your book! Enjoy your day!

  2. Image for Peg Peg

    Oh, it's SO lovely...best gift EVER!! And thank you, KariAnne for every wonderful story, craft, DIY, email, and all of YOUR encouragement and enthusiasm, kindness and joy!! You, my friend, are a blessing and a gift!!

  3. Image for Carole @ Garden Up Green Carole @ Garden Up Green

    What a neat gift and I bet it was extremely emotional to receive. I love the hand made gift approach to giving because this is when the heart begins to shine and the gift becomes more about the person receiving. That's an awesome brother!! I agree that blogging is this neat journey that pushes us to grow and it's such a great thing. Enjoyed this and love the flowers wrapped in burlap too are perfection. (ready for spring) Hope you have another great year!

  4. Image for Moriah Moriah

    Wow! What amazing talent your brother has. Beautiful. And I love your blog. Thank you for allowing us to come on your journey with you!! May God richly bless your family in this coming year. xo

  5. Image for Christopher Otterbeck Christopher Otterbeck

    What a beautiful gift. Can't wait to see what the new year brings for and from you, happy new year friend.

  6. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    This was a totally awesome way to start my day. Thanks, Miz karianne, for sharing the real you and your family.

  7. Image for Rosanna Rosanna

    What a beauty!!! What amazing memories! I'm trying to find a "good fit"for our family Christmas gatherings and haven't been successful so far...thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Image for Retie Retie

    You have brightened so many lives in so many ways each day! So looking forward to what you have for us in 2017.

  9. Image for Carla Hanson Carla Hanson

    Beautiful! Love the composition of your photo too! Lovely flowers that brighten this winter day! It's my birthday today so it was almost like getting a bouquet of flowers for my birthday! Love that your family continues this tradition.....and your blog stories are the best!

  10. Image for Ellen Ellen

    A gift from the heart and hands of an amazingly talented brother is surely what Christmas dreams are made of!! So very, very beautiful and overflowing with love from the first touch of the router to the last. What a perfect gift for you and your home. Your family is so talented and gifted. Thank-you for this post and for allowing all of us into your heart and home. Love sharing your journey through the daily ups and downs, the laughter and the tears, and the milestones met along the way.

  11. Image for TRACY TRACY

    Lovely gift! I totally understand your excitement and joy. It was truly one of the most thoughtful gifts you could have gotten. The really cool part is that your brother gets you! That doesn't always happen with siblings. Typically they take each other for granted until it is too late. You are a lucky person.

  12. Image for Donna Jackson Donna Jackson

    I love reading your blog! Thank you for each post and the encouragement it sends out! Love your gift. That is one fabulous brother.

  13. Image for Loryl Loryl

    How gorgeous! I love handmade gifts because they have a price of the gift givers heart in them. That is a VERY special gift. My younger sister has been making "gifts from the heart" the past few years. I've gotten a lighted Christmas song wall hanging, a candle wrapped in a velum picture of my parents and this year a tassel necklace! Each a treasure. Thank YOU for your wonderful storytelling and sharing your gifts.

  14. Image for Pat Pat

    Tears of joy for a most incredible gift of love from your brother are just the perfect way of saying a heartfelt thank you to him...That was such a beautiful gift and what a talented brother to create such an intricate image on a wine barrel lid! Love it.♥

  15. Image for kathryn kathryn

    A truly beautiful gift with love written all over it! Thank you for the gift you give us each day with your heartfelt stories. You make us feel like we're old friends enjoying coffee together every day. I love starting my day with you. Cheers to 2017 :}

  16. Image for Cookie Cookie

    What a special treat. I adore family togetherness. We are all so lucky to have family. Happy and healthy 2017 to you and yours.

  17. Image for sydney85 sydney85

    I am so happy for you to have such a wonderful family to share the holidays with. Lots of love and care go into those amazing handmade gifts.

  18. Image for Robin Robin

    Yours is the only blog I follow because not only do you have a beautiful house, you also have a beautiful heart. I love your stories I've been looking every day for the handmade gift blog. Not a disappointment there. The carving from your brother is awesome. I have a great brother too. Thank you for sharing you life and talent with us Happy 2017 God bless you and your family!

  19. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Wow! That's a true work of art! Your brother is very talented...love that family tradition of yours! And to think it all started when you hit 'publish'! ;)

  20. Image for Judy Houle Judy Houle

    How beautiful! A lot of love and you are blessed. We are at that stage of life when no more "stuff" is needed, so we have arrangements with family members to give in our honor to the charity of their choice or to our favorite charity, The Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. It is so sweet to receive their messages of where their gifts have gone to help others and the fact that thought was put into that gift and its meaning to us and the givers is wonderful.

  21. Image for Claudia A. Claudia A.

    Girly you got one awesome brother! I'm afraid, if we still exchaged gifts, all I would get from my brother would be noogies or a game he has always referred to as "mushy mushy" which is fun for him not for me where he tickles me until I cry... Yep either of the two aren't in anyway anything I'd want to receive. But your brother actually gives you awesome, meaningful gifts and you don't have to experience embarrassment.

  22. Image for Leslie Leslie

    Absolutely perfect...the gift and response...perfect. Thank you for encouraging, cheerleading, inspiring, sharing, creating, laughing and loving life that's brought laughter, tears and joy to all of us. Love and prayers that 2017 will bring surprises beyond your wildest dreams and expectations! Much love, sweet friend.

  23. Image for Stephanie Ray Brown Stephanie Ray Brown

    Oh sweet lady what a precious gift! Supports what your blog does home, heart, and homemade! Haha your blog makes me smile and every year I have a pick me up what to do with my blog conference call. I need to schedule one soon! ️️Truly think going over to more of my passions literacy sharing love of reading as well as writing and still taking time to preserve memories and recipes in print and share ideas that save memories too. This gift is such a great Memorykeeper. This year is going to be so exciting for you!!! I also plan on learning how to soar as an eagle now my nest is being emptied. God bless you always! Amazed at your energy and all you do!! I still have not put up pictures in this house!! Please keep sharing your adventures. Happy writing!

  24. Image for Sheila Sheila

    Geez...my brother gave me a box of chocolate covered Cella cherries. I ate every one of them and loved them, but still! What a nice brother you have. :)

  25. Image for Jeanne Jeanne

    Perfectly stunning...your words, thoughts, tears and this delightful, filled with love gift. You finding your voice, encouraged me to find mine. Thank you. Lots.

  26. Image for Robin Wood Robin Wood

    Oh my gracious, I'm at a loss for words. Thank you and thanks for sharing your life with us. Treasure that sweet family of yours. Way to go Mark. Hugs & Blessings

  27. Image for Linda J Linda J

    You're welcome. And, thank you. Thank you for the inspiration, laughs, great stories, word of encouragement (when you didn't even know you gave it), optimism, display of courage and sharing your family with all of us. I feel like you are a long distance sister. I know that is foolish, however, when someone influences me the way you have these last years, it becomes personal. No matter we have never met and probably won't. Know matter I am a name amongst thousands. You are my friend. A word I don't very often. So, again, thank you.

  28. Image for Michelle Michelle

    I love your family tradition of making Christmas gifts -- truly from the heart. And everything you thank us for (thank you for the thank you, by the way), are the same things you do for us. So thank you, too! I also love that your brother found something that someone discarded and turned it into a life-time treasure. I think I would have cried too. No, I know I would have. I hope this is the best year ever for you and your family!

  29. Image for Rebecca Turner Rebecca Turner

    I look forward to seeing what your family will come up with each year, and this year was not a disappointment. Apparently you are ALL creative and talented! I love the barrel lid! How unique! The fact that your brother puts so much thought and time into his handmade gifts for you is indicative of a close relationship. You are blessed! (And I'm still crushin on that book-thistle from your sister a few years back. Maybe you ought to consider doing a guest post featuring the artists and their projects!)

  30. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    THats amazing, KariAnne! Wow your brother is very talented. Truly a gift to treasure. I love y'alls tradition! Sooo, did I miss what you made for them? I want to see! ? Hugs Cecilia

  31. Image for Barbara Barbara

    Wow! Well, I got teary just looking at it. What a special gift and to look forward to the handmade ones every year! You have an incredibly talented family- show us more:)

  32. Image for Maureen Maureen

    I am so touched by this. The gifts alone are beautiful but what is more beautiful is the time and energy behind the gift, thinking it up, making it, and then giving a piece of yourself away. Your family is so blessed. We all just love reading your blogs. You are a gift to each one of us!

  33. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Oh, my! Your gift is so beautiful I want to hug Mark! And I feel so lucky that one day, years ago, I came across a blog called Thistlewood Farms. You were the first blog I signed up to receive. I feel that day I found a friend! Lots of love and hugs!!

  34. Image for Debbie Esparza Debbie Esparza

    What a priceless gift...It is just breathtaking! I would have bawled my eyes out as well. You are blessed! Your blog is just so awesome, I love it to pieces, thank you!

  35. Image for Sherry Fisher Sherry Fisher

    Karianne, you do have the best brother, so talented. Your whole family must be! I love everything handmade and have wanted to have a homemade Christmas with my family for a long time. By the way, I was ecstatic to hear the burlap curtains were available and have ordered some for my bedroom! I have coveted them ever since I saw them on your blog ;D. Happy New Year to you and yours! XO

  36. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    The love your family has for one another is a blessing to behold. What a thoughtful, lovely, beautiful gift. Just like the recipient.

  37. Image for Lanita Anderson Lanita Anderson

    Oh my goodness.....what a WONDERFUL gift!! And what a blessing to have a brother so talented! I can't wait to see how you incorporate it into your decorating at the farmhouse. Thanks for sharing - Definitely a treasure.....

  38. Image for Bonnie Bonnie

    Mark is not my brother but I love his gift also. I can't wait to see the other homemade gifts you and your family exchanged. Gifting homemade gifts is so special. THANK YOU for the blessing you are in my life every week by giving me a chance to read the words you share.

  39. Image for Cindy in Oklahoma Cindy in Oklahoma

    I love this! So much talent mixed with love and look what happened!!!! My goal this year is to convince my family we need to start this tradition...

  40. Image for Pinky Pinky

    What a wonderful tradition and FABULOUS gift!!!! OMGoodness, I would have cried too! Do you do anything similiar with your children? Handmade gifts? This was delightful! As are YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

  41. Image for Angie M Angie M

    Wow! What a beautiful gift! I'm so happy for you that your brother put so much love and effort into such a perfect gift for you.

  42. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    What an awesome gift! Perfect for you! And what we would do without you, the one who makes something out of nothing and shares it and wears red lipstick while she does it and plucks out the funnest words to make us smile? Thank you for sharing your life with the world! ❤

  43. Image for Sue Raddatz Sue Raddatz

    What a wonderful, fabulous and thoughtful gift from your brother to you. Thank you for sharing with all the warm details. Karianne, you and your brother rock!

  44. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    Karieanne, you come from an amazing family. Your Mom must be so proud of all of you. What a great job she and your Dad did instilling such a strong sense of family in each of you. I love the gift your brother made and can't wait to see the others you will be sharing!

  45. Image for ginette4 ginette4

    Yeah..I've been waiting for this post! This is amazing, big cheers to your brother, I loved the boxes that he did with the faces but this tops it by 100 :) also Happy New year

  46. Image for Teresa Emrich in Georgia Teresa Emrich in Georgia

    I don't think I can say anything that hasn't already been said in previous comments. God bless you and your family! May you all continue to enjoy the heartfelt kindness and love for many years to come. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Image for Claudine Claudine

    Happy New Year, darling!!! What a wonderful story!!! And what a marvellous gift!!! This is a treasure that will be cherished for years and years I'm sure. Thank YOU, dear Karianne! I love reading your stories! I remember back then reading about you "dangling" your earrings!!! That stayed with me! The lipstick and the earrings and the smile... I wish I meet you in person one day. A lot of health and love darling! I went to your Facebook and wished the same things, too. You make a difference in my life, from far away! Hugs!

  48. Image for Lisa Walters Lisa Walters

    Ohhhhh myyyyy goooodness!!! THAT is absolutely gorgeous!!! Wow...just beautiful! I can't wait until you show us where your going to display it!!!! Your brother too IS VERY talented!!! SO happy you shared with us? Happy weekend!!! Lisa

  49. Image for Linda Linda

    Hmmm...I think we need to thank YOU! For being such a ray of sunshine in our lives. Happy New Year dear Karianne! Make 2017 great! We're right here with you cheering you on!

  50. Image for Jeanneen Higgins Jeanneen Higgins

    Does or will your brother make the carved signs for sale. I purchased some reclaimed wood palette initials from here to help fund his adoption trip. I would love to give these as gifts to my children. A carving of the front of their home.

  51. Image for Julie Julie

    It's a gift as beautiful as your writing and your heart. I love that you have continued the tradition through the years. Best wishes for a beautiful year!

  52. Image for Rosalie McCreary Rosalie McCreary

    What an awesome gift! I love homemade gifts, I think they are the best! I'd like to share a story if I may. About 18 years ago I was helping out my daughter and son-in-law when their 1st child was due. My son-in-law, bless him, hated waste and insisted that all plastic food bags be washed and reused. Me on the other hand didn't go in for that, but it was his home and rules. So one day I strung the screen room with cords and washed and hung every bag I could find! We laughed and we agreed to disagree! But come that Christmas I presented him with a hand made plastic bag dryer that I made using dowels with little knobs on the tips. The dowels were set into a round base than everything was varathained to be waterproof. Our Sean passed away this past November but that dryer is still in use today! He was handy in the kitchen and he used it all the time! That gift was THE gift of the season that year. We became great friends and I miss him so very much. Thank you KariAnne for all that you do and share with us. Happy New Year!

  53. Image for Terri Terri

    What a precious family tradition ... I love this post Karianne!!! Such amazing memories in the making!! That wine barrel lid ... created just for you... A Unique Gift for "Unique You"!!! I love.. love it !!!!!!!

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